They say he is probably the best in the Premier League. Some say, that Howard Webb is a big game referee. Sir Alex even gave the former police sergeant from Yorkshire his backing early on in his career as a ref in the top flight to go on and become England’s finest whistleblower, but only after criticising Webb for decisions he had made in a clash against the gooners. Old Father Time certainly knows how to play the psychology game and this has turned out to be no exception in the case with Webb. For Webb is not so much a big game referee and has proved himself on more than the odd occasion, that what he is in fact is a big team referee.
One team, which has born the brunt of Webb’s willingness to make the most controversial decisions in favour of one of the supposed big sides, is Tottenham. Last season the FIFA-listed official gave the most outrageous penalty decision against Spurs at Old Trafford. When the North London side were enjoying an unexpected 2-0 lead in the backyard of the Premiership champions. Webb decided that a perfectly timed challenge by keeper Heurelho Gomes was in fact a penalty. How he came to that conclusion I like many Spurs fans will never know. It was a decision, which ultimately changed the course of the match and Tottenham, went on to lose it quite comfortably in the end. Webb might have come out afterwards and conceded he got it wrong, but the damage had been done.
Fast forward to last night at Anfield in a huge game for Tottenham against Liverpool and the ex-copper was at it again. With the aid of his trusted assistant, they contrived to chalk off what was a perfectly good goal by Jermain Defoe, when ruling the England International’s goal offside due to Defoe having been offside in the original passage of play. The assistant had flagged for the offside, even though the new murky offside rules clearly state he was onside the second ‘Razor Ruddock’ look-a-like Kyrgiakos played the ball back to Pepe Reina, who made a complete pigs ear of it, when put under pressure by Defoe.
Webb didn’t blow the whistle the instant Jermain went to challenge the Spaniard for the ball though, for some reason he could only find the power in his lungs to blow it seconds later, when the ball was travelling towards the goal line and it was apparent, that Spurs were going to level the match at 1-1.
Webb is not stupid though and for the ten minutes afterwards gave Tottenham all the 50/50 decisions, albeit nothing ones in the middle of the park and never mind that Liverpool had been the beneficiaries of these decisions throughout the match beforehand. Peter Crouch got nothing from Webb throughout the match, despite it looking at times that Kyrgiakos wanted to swap underpants let alone shirts with the striker. Webb allowed Javier Mascherano to make at least three bad challenges and tell him to f-off before booking him, while the moment Jermaine Jenas made one the card was out straight away. I won’t go into the Greeks rugby tackle on Crouch in the box during the first half. See no evil, hear no evil hey! Unless it happens to be a big side being hard done by!
Poor Howard seems to have bought into the hype, that he is indeed our finest whistleblower, but how can you be, when you don’t even know the laws of the game you’re there to apply. Even if the offside law does seem to change like the wind, that is his job and if he is our best ref, then surely he should be able to do it properly, fairly and without bias, whoever is playing.
This is not sour grapes from a Spurs fan! This is a sense of injustice felt from a football fan, who just wants to see our beautiful game officiated in the right way. And if a side like Tottenham can find themselves on the wrong side of horrendous decisions from our so called top official, then god help the likes of Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth, even though Pompey clearly have more pressing matters presently. After all if referee’s want respect, then some has to come back the other way. Starting with the most basic, which is respecting the laws of the game, they are there to enforce.
Written By ‘The New Voice of Football’